Should You Stalk Potential Hires on Social Media

By Kaitlin Hurtado on March 12, 2022

Every employer and recruiter has their own go-to methods of screening potential hires for open positions. With social media playing such a large part in many people’s lives, it is not hard to imagine why an employer or recruiter would want to take a peek at a potential hire’s social media. You may be wondering if it’s the right choice to do so – is it legal? Is it a complete invasion of privacy? Will it even give you an accurate reading on whether or not the potential hire is the right candidate for the job? As someone who wants to do their due diligence in screening potential hires, a quick social media screening can bring you one step closer to making your choice on who to hire.

A national survey found that 70 percent of employers used social media sites to research job applicants during their recruiting process as of 2018. What’s the best way to make the most out of a social media screening? Keep reading on how you could make the screening as effective and professional as possible, rather than a “nosy stalking session.”

Photo: Pexels

Look at social media as an extension to a resume 

While a resume is aimed to give recruiters a look at what a candidate could bring to the position, it doesn’t exactly paint a full picture of the candidate’s potential as it’s often a very short, summarized two-page document.

If used right, looking at a potential hire’s social media can give you a better understanding of them. Maintaining a professional eye during your screening can help bring you one step closer to your decision on who to hire.

Social media platforms like LinkedIn will give you the more professional social media activity for the potential hire as its platform is intended to showcase one’s professional life. However, it’s not the only social media platform you can use during your social media screening. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are often used by individuals looking to put their personal branding and work out into the world.

Social media may not be a good resource for every career field 

When it comes to using social media as a tool for your screening of job applicants, it may not be all that helpful for every career out there. For example, if you are hiring for a role that has a heavy focus on customer service, you may not get much from looking at a potential hire’s social media.

If you are hiring for a role that involves marketing or creativity, however, using a potential hire’s social media to get a better understanding of their work would be more beneficial to you. If an applicant uses their social media to showcase their work, you could simply look at it as an extension to their resume as they have curated a feed of their best work.

If you are hiring for a marketing-based role, you may even want to include an option to list social media accounts on job applications so candidates can point you directly to their profiles.

Avoid creating unfair bias 

Social media platforms can be used as a supporting tool during your screening of a potential hire, but they shouldn’t build an unfair bias toward any one candidate. You may find yourself curious about a job applicant you are about to interview and think a quick peek at their social media wouldn’t hurt. However, this can lead to unconscious bias, which is completely unfair to the person you are interviewing and other potential hires.

There is going to be a difference between how a job applicant will introduce and present themselves in a professional setting such as a job interview, and how they present themselves on their personal Instagram profile. Even if you don’t necessarily set out to form your own opinions from your quick glances at their social media, you can unconsciously form opinions that impact whether or not you think they are the right fit for the job. Most of the time, their personal social media may not offer any insight at all when it comes to their ability to perform well at their job.

The Applicant Manager recommends thinking of questions you wouldn’t and shouldn’t ask during a job interview for information that would lead to discrimination. If you are using your social media search to answer these types of questions, or seek this type of information, you shouldn’t be using social media as a tool to screen applicants.

A social media screening shouldn’t be your ultimate deciding factor in your choice of who to hire for your open position. It could be a useful asset in your toolbelt you rely on to effectively screen potential hires, but it should never be the only thing you rely on in your final decision.

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